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Corporate Partnership Builds a Public School Playground

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Howe Elementary School of Excellence students on their new playground built through Coca Cola's "Sprite Spark Park Project" on September 9, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte

Keisha S. Campbell, principal of the Howe School of Excellence in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood, pointed at her school’s new playground and recalled what was there before:

“When we took over Howe, there was not a green area on site. It was gravel,” Campbell said during a press conference on Friday, Sept. 9, at the school, 720 N. Lorel Ave. “In three years, due to the partnership of the Chicago Public Schools, and the alderman’s office, we now have a green area and grass for students to run and play safely.”

Actually, the new playground at Howe – a school that is run by a private non-profit organization under contract to the Chicago Public Schools – is the result of a grant from a major corporation, Coca Cola/Sprite, which donated $25,000 to build the brand new playground where none existed under their “Sprite Spark Parks Project for Schools,” a national campaign that is “focused on refurbishing active spaces for students, in order to create clean, safe and fun areas and to encourage physical fitness among students.”
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Stop the Violence

by Cenabeth Cross 

I discovered an organization that is providing employment services for people who need it badly. The Michael Barlow Center on Chicago’s West Side is helping ex-offenders find jobs and places to live. The Barlow Center, which was dedicated on April 22, 2005, is a part of St. Leonard’s Ministries, located at 2120 West Warren Blvd.

St. Leonard’s Ministries helps inmates, women and men, with a place to stay, training and support as they re-enter society. They help ex-offenders to rebuild their lives and get a chance to make a buck. With the Barlow Center, they are expanding their services by opening new programs, including two new buildings where the residents will live and learn. One is a five-story high building where the residents will sleep. I learned this by taking a tour of the facilities after my interviews.
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Tales of Lawndale Housing

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Many of the poorest of the poor in Lawndale feel as if they have been exploited for years by Cecil Butler and his company called Lawndale Restoration as well as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Until last year, no one paid close attention to the cries of the people in the Lawndale community. People only started to cast their eyes to this West Side neighborhood when one of Cecil Butler’s apartment buildings’ roofs caved in, endangering the safety of residents.

Pictured here in September, 2004, a dismantled ceiling in one of Cecil Butler's dilapidated buildings. Photo by Beauty Turner

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Stop The Violence

by Cenabeth Cross 

Located at 2650 and 2710 Ogden Ave. on Chicago’s West Side, the Odgen Courts development is mostly occupied by single parent households, headed by women. The apartments are in deplorable conditions. Mice, lead poisoning and dirty water are only a few of the problems we face daily. And many of us suffer from depression, asthma and other ailments. There are shootings, fights and other conflicts constantly.

One of the most violent acts that has happened here at Ogden Courts between residents was a fight between four women, including the former LAC president, Latresha Green. Also involved was her twin sister, Lakisha, and her mother, Debra. The three of them jumped on a young lady. There were two eye witnesses. One was the young lady’s seven-year-old son.
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Getting to Know Rockwell

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

I recently investigated Rockwell Gardens, a 17-acre public housing development on Chicago’s West Side. In my quest to get to know Rockwell, I learned a lot about this family development.

Built in 1961, Rockwell Gardens housed 1,126 units of public housing before redevelopment began recently and it is just three miles from the Loop. When completed, the redeveloped site will house 823 units, 264 of which will be public housing, according to Chicago Housing Authority representatives.
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